Unofficial: How People in Slovakia Are Nostalgic for Communism
Slovak photographer, born in Humenne. Studied at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam. Winner of a number of contests in Italy, Japan, Switzerland, Germany, and Slovakia. Her works are parts of museum collections in Slovakia, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.
— I spent two years doing in-depth research into the history of my birthplace, the town of Humenné in eastern Slovakia, and the relationship between the present and the past in Eastern European societies. I used the official archives as well as pictures made by amateur photographers — portraits of the local population during the communist regime — to produce two books, a photographic installation and three videos, which show my own interpretation of Slovak society today.
For my video, Exercise, I asked older inhabitants of the town I come from to demonstrate gymnastic exercises that they remembered doing back during the communist regime, following instructions broadcast each morning on the radio. The opening scene in the video shows three older women doing stretching exercises in the Slovakian countryside. From behind the camera, I give them instructions that they clearly enjoy following. I am not concerned here about whether the exercises are done correctly, but about showing an older, forgotten generation.
To the Western eye, the idea of communism may be a thing of the past, but for the residents of Humenné, this past is still very much alive. Many people in my Unofficial do not live a real life. They live life according to their memories. These people have the same poses, attitudes, moves and gestures as the people I knew from the archives.
This text is adapted from a text by Laurens Wirtz